Avitech Diagnostics Inc.'s enzymatic mismatch scanning technologywill be adapted to Pharmacia Biotech AB's ALF DNA sequencer andbiomolecular detection device through a collaboration to develop anautomated mutation scanning system.

Avitech, of Malvern, Pa., currently is running its enzymatic mismatchsystem (EMS) on a gel-based format. The DNA being tested and areference strand of DNA are mixed to create duplex molecules. Theenzyme scans across the molecule and cleaves only at sights ofmismatch.

"We view it now as a being a fairly good system for geneticresearch," said Richard Hoffman, Avitech's vice president of financeand business development. "For maximum marketing acceptancewe'd like to move off the gel-based format into a conventionalautomated instrument."

Hoffman said the first data generated combining the EMS technologyand Pharmacia system will be presented at a genetic diagnosticsmeeting March 7, 1996, in San Francisco. Specific terms of the dealwith Pharmacia Biotech, an Uppsala, Sweden-division of Pharmacia& Upjohn Inc., were not disclosed.

Avitech was started up last October with a focus on geneticdiagnostics. Among the company's former names were AppliedTechnology Genetics Corp., which focused on gel reagents. Thiscollaboration sprung from work Avitech and predecessors had withPharmacia in the gel business.

"They have an enormous interest in expanding the applications thatcan run on their ALFexpress and Biosensor machines," Hoffmansaid.

The EMS technology uses DNA repair and replication enzymes todetect mutated DNA sequences in vitro. It is applicable to thedetection and diagnosis of diseases in which an alteration in DNA isinvolved in the process. The technology can scan for both known andunknown mutations.

More than 60 academic collaborators at molecular geneticslaboratories worldwide are currently using EMS, Avitech said. n

-- Jim Shrine

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.